A property rental scam has returned to Barrie, police warn.

Advertisements have been placed on Kijiji, Craig’s List or other similar ad posting sites with houses for rent with the price lower than market average, Barrie police say.

Once conversation begins, the “landlord” states they are unable to show the property as they currently live out of town. Often the address, details of the property and interior photos are provided via email.

Many of these homes have recently been listed for sale or rent and these details are obtained by the fraudsters from original listing source, police say.

A discounted deposit for good faith is requested to be sent via money transfer with the understanding the keys will be mailed or dropped off to the prospective tenant.

Often, when the tenant shows up, the house is occupied by an unexpected tenant or homeowner and the renter is out the deposit money with no where to live.

Barrie Police do not have reports of actual victims, however, diligent citizens that have come across such ads have advised the fraud unit.

How to Protect Yourself:

•   When searching for rentals, go to the address. Schedule a showing and confirm its availability. Driving by is not enough to confirm a house is available for rent.

•   Request a lease/contract. Review it thoroughly. Do your best to confirm information provided on the lease including landlord information.

•  Complete open source searches on rental addresses to ensure it’s not a duplicate post. Previous sale or expired rental ads may be a sign of a scam. If recently listed as for sale, contact the listing agent to cross reference the details you have.

•   Know the market. If similar houses are listed for substantially higher than the ad you are reading, there is a chance it is fraudulent.

•   Do not send funds to strangers. E-transfers and Money Transfers can end up anywhere in the world and are hard to track.

•   Contact Equifax and Transunion if you’ve provided sensitive information on applications.

•   Go with your gut. If it seems fishy it probably is. Too good to be true is often that, too good to be true.

More information on real estate and rental scams can be found on the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center website.

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